Getting it write

Leroy Sibbles autobiography out this year

Observer senior writer

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The popular Startime show takes place on May 5 at Mas Camp in Kingston. The Jamaica Observer , which is one of its sponsors, presents a series of stories on its impact and stars, leading up to the event.

IN a career spanning 50-odd years, there is little Leroy Sibbles has not accomplished. The 69-year-old artiste sang, arranged and played bass on some of rocksteady and reggae's biggest hit songs.

Sibbles is now looking to add author to his resume with his autobiography, which he plans to release this year.

“It going to have everything, from mi born come straight down the line,” he recently told the Jamaica Observer.

Of the countless books written about reggae, its artistes and musicians, not many have been written by Jamaicans. Sibbles, former member of The Heptones, said he has been recording a transcript for his tome by Dictaphone.

While not going into details, the singer-songwriter disclosed that the book will reflect on his career with the famed rocksteady harmony group, his years as a session musician at Studio One, and his decision to move to Canada in the early 1970s.

Sibbles returned to Jamaica permanently in the mid-1990s and was an integral part of the rocksteady revival that decade, performing multiple times on the Heineken Startime series. He is part of the line-up for the May 5 Startime event at Mas Camp in St Andrew, the final show in the long-running series.

“Startime was a wonderful platform; most of the artistes that appeared on this show owe respect and lots of gratitude to promoters to revive most of their careers,” said Sibbles. He added that promoters of major shows such as Reggae Sumfest should reach out to older acts.

“These artistes have paid their dues and should always be respected and remembered. They can be presented in a special segment of the show, like at the beginning.”

Originally from Trench Town, Sibbles' first big musical assignment was with The Heptones alongside Earl Morgan and Barry Llewellyn. The trio had a string of hit songs, mainly for Studio One, including Sea Of Love, Fattie Fattie, Equal Rights, Sweet Talking, Baby Be True, I've Got The Handle and Love Me Always.

Sibbles also established himself as an outstanding bass guitarist, playing on songs by Burning Spear (Door Peep, Foggy Road), Horace Andy ( Mr Bassie), The Mad Lads ( Ten to One), The Abyssinians (Satta Massagana), Ernest Wilson ( Undying Love) and the enduring instrumental, Full Up.

While the music he and his contemporaries made is hailed by musicologists as arguably the best produced in Jamaica, Sibbles believes the absence of a structured music industry in the early years has hurt them.

“The business approach was of a hustling strategy, with all or most of these early producers showing nothing but greed and selfishness towards the artiste and musicians. This created a lack of respect for the music and the business between the local producers and the record companies abroad, which in turn made the artistes suffer,” he said.

Marcia Griffiths, Horace Andy, Ernie Smith, Sanchez, U Roy, Cornel Campbell, Boris Gardiner and Xylophone are also booked for Startime.




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